Two takeaways from Daniel Pink’s Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, as embodied by the following excerpts…
1. The evolution of human motivation:
The factors motivating us have changed — more so accumulated — as our species has evolved and our standard of living improved. Mr. Pink identifies three major epochs (“operating systems”) of human motivation…
i. Motivation 1.0 = survival
A biological reflex among cavemen.
ii. Motivation 2.0 = survival + hedonism
We evolved to respond to external factors like extrinsic reward-seeking with risk-minimization achieved via a “carrot & stick” or conditional “if, then” proposition.
iii. Motivation 2.1 = survival + hedonism + semi-autonomy
In the 1950s, the ascendence of service businesses (succeeding manufacturing) let ideas creep into the workplace. Tasks were suddenly less algorithmic and more heuristic, and that exercise of creativity made us want to work.
iv. Motivation 3.0 = survival + hedonism + autonomy
Now in the 21st century, the idea economy has spread, and we want to maximize autonomy to obtain mastery en route to greater purpose.
In this logic, I see parallelisms to Peter Diamandis’ “Abundance Thesis.”
2. The Sawyer Effect (i.e. Tom Sawyer):
We’re naturally averse to obligatory tasks with conditional, extrinsic rewards (“carrots with sticks”), because they constrain us in requiring that we forfeit some of our autonomy.
In contrast, we long for intrinsic rewards.
The former motivates us in the short term, giving way to disenchantment in the long term. Vice versa for the latter. (e.g. We love the privilege of sailing for pleasure, but sailing for a job is remedial labor.)
Extrinsic rewards (e.g. “if, then” or “carrot & stick”) are still appropriate for more algorithmic jobs with short-term deadlines, but intrinsic rewards (“now, then”) are better for more creative, longer-term projects.
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